Label: Republic Records
Hamilton Hookup: On opening night of the off-Broadway production of Hamilton in early 2015, music team member and producer Will Wells pulled aside Ramos, who was cast as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. Ramos recalls him saying: “Everyone on that stage is very talented, but you? You special.” Ramos had just started writing songs, and Wells suggested he consider releasing an album. They became co-writers, later forming their official partnership, Whole Team Winnin.
Spike’s Signoff: Post-Hamilton, Ramos starred as Mars Blackmon in the Netflix adaptation of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and later played the best friend of Ally (Lady Gaga) in A Star Is Born. Before filming season two, Lee called Ramos one morning to say, “It just hit me — you got to do a song, and I want you to write it.” For Ramos’ first major solo performance, he sang “Cry Today, Smile Tomorrow” — a soulful track he and Wells wrote.
Major Meetup: Modest! Management helped Ramos arrange label meetings in late 2018; after speaking with Republic Records president of West Coast creative Wendy Goldstein for three hours, he had made up his mind. He signed a recording contract with the label around the same time, then hunkered down with Wells in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon neighborhood, writing 21 songs in 30 days. “It was supposed to be a five-song EP, but Wendy looked up at me after 13 songs and went, ‘This is an album.’ ”
Double Threat: Ramos describes his debut, The Good & The Bad, out Oct. 25 on Republic, as “real stories with banging beats” that reflect his upbringing in a Puerto Rican household in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (He plans to release some tracks in Spanish.) Ramos is also wrapping his next role, as the lead in the movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, coming June 2020. “Your boy is just trying to manage it all,” he says. “But it’s dope.”